West Baton Rouge Parish voters are being asked to renew three property tax millages that generate about $6 million to support the parish’s recreational facilities, drainage system and library.
The tax millages on the Nov. 4 ballot are up for renewal for 10 years.
Parish officials said renewing the 7.2-mill tax for drainage is critical for the parish to be able to continue providing the same level of service it does now in maintaining more than 750 miles of drainage ditches and canals in West Baton Rouge.
The tax, which was first passed in 1985, generates about $2.6 million in annual revenue.
“That money covers all our drainage labor and all of our operating costs,” said Jason Manola, executive assistant to the parish president. “It would impact us significantly if it wasn’t renewed. We’re constantly doing maintenance on our canals.”
The tax is up for 10-year renewal from 2016 until 2025.
Residents with homes assessed at $150,000 pay $4.38 each month for the 7.2-mill tax, while property owners with homes assessed at the $200,000 mark pay $7.31 a month, Manola said.
The state’s homestead exemption, which allows eligible homeowners to pay no taxes on the first $75,000 of the value of their property, applies to the tax.
The second renewal on the Nov. 4 ballot is a 5-mill tax that helps sustain the parish’s recreational facilities and programs. The recreation tax, which was first approved by voters in 2005, generates about $1.8 million annually.
The tax supports the parish’s various recreational programs, such as WBR Senior Spirit, youth summer camps in Addis, Port Allen and Erwinville, and a therapeutic horseback riding program for children with disabilities.
Annual revenue generated by the tax also pays for maintenance of the parish’s three multicourt tennis facilities, various walking tracks, eight baseball/softball complexes and an 18-acre soccer complex.
“Each year, we’ve been looking at different types of programs to add,” Manola said. “We want to provide recreational activities for all West Baton Rouge residents. Part of our long-range plan is looking at building a skateboard park. Any new projects we try to do are funded out of the recreation millage.”
Officials said renewal of a 4.1-mill tax for thelibraryis vital to keep the doors of the library open because the tax is the library system’s primary source of funding.
The library millage, which bring in approximately $1.5 million in annual revenue, has been on the books and renewed by voters every decade since 1965.
“A vote on this is voting on whether or not you want a library available in your community,” Library Director Beth Vandersteen said. “This is not a tax renewal where if it doesn’t pass, you cut a program or two. If this doesn’t pass, we would have to close the library.”
Vandersteen said more than 93,000 items were checked out of the library last year, an impressive number for a parish the size of West Baton Rouge.
If renewed, the tax would pay for the library until 2024.
“We’ve gotta keep this going,” Vandersteen said.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.